Michigan’s State Trade Expansion Program

Through Michigan’s State Trade Expansion Program (MI-STEP), the International Trade team offers financial assistance for exporting activities to eligible Michigan small businesses, enabling access to global markets and buyers while increasing the dollar value of Michigan exports.

MI-STEP: Funds to Go Global

MEDC’s International Trade program has a wealth of expertise and resources available to help Michigan businesses grow within the state and internationally. One of these many resources is Michigan’s State Trade Expansion Program or MI-STEP. Watch this video to learn more.

Program Overview

The MEDC International Trade Program has a new allocation of State Trade Expansion Program (STEP) funds available for eligible small business concerns. On September 8, 2022 the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) awarded Michigan the maximum state award of $1,400,000 in MI-STEP funds for FY23. With additional state match funding, total funds available are $1.86 million.

The program has three primary objectives:

  • Increase the number of Michigan small businesses that export
  • Increase the dollar value of Michigan exports
  • Increase the number of Michigan small businesses exploring significant new trade opportunities

MI-STEP applications are accepted annually October 1 through September 15. Applications must be received a minimum of three days prior to activity start date. Applications received two days or less in advance are not eligible and will not be processed or approved.

Eligibility

Up to $15,000 in assistance is available to offset 75 percent of pre-approved expenses per fiscal year. Michigan companies must meet the following eligibility criteria to qualify for MI-STEP funds:

  1. Be in accordance with Small Business Administration
    (SBA) guidelines and size standards:
    www.sba.gov/content/small-business-size-standards
  2. Demonstrate an understanding of the costs associated
    with exporting and doing business with foreign purchasers,
    including the costs of freight forwarding, customs brokers,
    packing, and shipping, per SBA guidelines
  3. Demonstrate potential for export success and positive
    impact on the regional economy
  4. Provide an EIN number linked to a Michigan address
  5. Be in good standing with the Michigan Department of
    Treasury and other regulatory agencies
  6. Must be an export-ready U.S. company seeking to
    export goods or services of U.S. origin or have at least
    51 percent U.S. content
  7. Be able to demonstrate minimum gross annual revenue of $100k
  8. Be a full-time means of employment
  9. Demonstrate a competitive advantage and capability of entering international markets against local products and services
  10. Wholesale distributors of imported products are ineligible
  11. MI-STEP program utilization is not guaranteed and is subject to ITM/Program Manager discretion

Determine U.S. Content

Allowable Uses of MI-STEP Funds

Program funds may be approved for export marketing-related activities including:

  1. Participation in foreign trade missions
  2. U.S. Department of Commerce services
  3. International website design, development, and translation; search engine optimization and localization maintenance and monitoring; e-commerce fees including hosting and maintenance
  4. Design and translation of international marketing media, including social media and digital ad placements
  5. International trade show participation
  6. Foreign sales trip
  7. U.S.-based international trade show participation
  8. Participation in export training workshops
  9. Reverse foreign buyer missions (meeting space/audio visual)
  10. Cost of compliance testing and/or international certifications
    for an existing product for entry into an export market
  11. Sample product shipping
  12. Export credit insurance premiums

Expense/Reimbursement Limitations

Ineligible expenses include:

  • Meals, entertainment, cell phone charges, gifts, and personal expenses 
  • Passport and visa fees
  • Immunization and COVID related testing expenses
  • Travel reimbursement for distributors or sales representatives not employed by the Michigan company
  • Fees for shipping products to be sold in market
  • Printing materials/services

Please also note:

  • Travel reimbursement is limited to two (2) travelers who must be U.S. citizens
  • Flights must adhere to Fly America/Open Skies agreements. Only economy flights are eligible for reimbursement — no upgrades
  • Mileage when driving to/from a trade show is reimbursable at the federal mileage rate only. Gasoline expenses are only eligible for reimbursement when used with a rental car internationally

Contact your ITM to Apply

Company Resources